Thursday, 8 September 2011

Whaddon, Cambridgeshire

St Mary was undergoing major restoration work when I visited and most of the fixtures and fittings were covered with dust sheets, so I might be being a bit harsh when I say that it's big, bland and utterly dull.

ST MARY. An all-embattled flint and pebble church. The chancel dates from c. 1300, see the chancel arch with three-shaft responds, little sharp ridges in the diagonals and some nail-head decoration in the capitals. The arch has two groups of two quarter-circle mouldings.The windows go with that date, except for the renovated Perp E window. But the nave and aisles are more important than the nave. They are of the Early Perp, i.e. of c. 1375 or so. Tall two-light aisle windows with a transom and top tracery partly with a circle in the middle, which is elongated into an ogee at the lower end, and partly with completely straightened-out forms. The clerestory has quatrefoil openings in square surrounds. The arcade is of impressively tall octagonal piers, five bays long, with double-hollow-chamfered arches. The tower arch goes with them, and the whole W tower is indeed Perp. It has a stair-turret higher than the battlements of the tower. But what remains in one’s mind is the erectness of the arcades with the slender windows of the aisles appearing behind them. Similarly the three-light Perp W window of the tower appears behind the equally exaggeratedly tall tower arch. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with blank arches on the stem and pointed quatrefoil panels on the bowl. Only one of them, that pointing E, has a shield. It contains the arms of the d’Eschallers family. -  ROOD SCREEN. One-light divisions with simple tracery above depressed arches. - MONUMENT. Big tomb-chest against the chancel N wall with shields in cusped pointed quatrefoils. It is the tomb of John d’Eschallers d. 1469.

St Mary (2)

WHADDON. From ancient Ermine Street we catch sight of its roofs and its medieval tower above the trees. The tower and the fine north doorway have weathered 500 years, and the rest of the church is older, mainly 14th century, with a cornice of odd faces round the outside of the nave, and heads of medieval folk by the windows of the embattled aisles. Inside are stately arcades and two noble arches, the one to the tower framing a wide west window, the older one to the chancel spanned by a 15th century screen. Two rude people put out their tongues at us from the tracery of this screen, and others gape down open-mouthed from the roof, which has fine bosses carved with Bowers and animals. Fragments of old glass are in the top of a window. An angel blows a trumpet on an organ said to have come from Manchester Cathedral. Grace Pickering is remembered for the Black Letter Bible she gave to the church in 1688, and Robert Hurlock for his 55 years as vicar. He died in 1852.  The 500-year-old font bears the arms of the Deschallers, the last of whose men lies here in a tomb very worn and with its brass portraits gone. The only trace of their old home are some stalwart oaks.

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